John Dramani Mahama has been speaking out and defending his decision to pardon the Montie 3, saying that keeping them in jail past one month would have served no benefit to anyone.
The President exercised his Presidential prerogative of mercy last month to pardon the Montie 3 – the three NDC activists who were jailed for four months after threatening Supreme Court Justices.
Critics have noted that the pardon was undermining the powers of the judiciary, as well as being made on partisan lines – but the President said on Good Evening Ghana that the pardon was in the State’s interest, as the three had expressed sufficient remorse and keeping them jailed would have inured no benefit to the state.
“I think that the overriding consideration must be that, all arms of government must act constitutionally and I swore an oath on the 7th of January 2013 to abide by the Constitution and so every action I take must be in consonant with the Constitutional provisions. The young men were called before the Supreme Court for scandalising the court and even before they were called before the court, they had shown remorse; they had apologised for what they said and before the court they apologised again.
“When they were sentenced in mitigation they asked for mercy; apologised and retracted everything they said. And even after they were sentenced and left the court and went to prison; they still in written and verbal form expressed absolute regret for what they did. I don’t know what benefit it would have been to anybody the three extra months they would have served in prison; I don’t know.”
The President added that he referred the case to the Council of State and was acting based on their recommendation.
“I referred it to the Council of State and the Council came back to me and recommended that I exercise my powers under Article 72, not in terms of pardoning them. They remain convicted and that’s what a lot of people do not realize. They remain convicted, they paid Ghc30, 000 in fines and that money is in the state coffers. But what I did was that, instead of letting them spend four months in prison, they spent one month in prison. Indeed if you look at the conviction and the sentencing, the general consensus was that, four months was quite a harsh punishment to have been imposed for that kind of crime. And so I believe that I acted constitutionally and it was in the interest of Ghana.”